Wednesday, November 11, 2009

16 Bear sightings, nine injured in bear spate in Sikkim so far

Trap set up at Bulbuley to capture elusive Himalayan Black Bear
GANGTOK, November 11: Debate on forest resource conservation have been renewed with increasing conflicts between man and animals in Sikkim with nine persons injured by Himalayan black bears in various parts of the State.
At least sixteen sightings of bears have taken place in the past one month in all the four districts of the State and six of such sightings have turned into an ugly confrontation that led to mauling of nine persons including three foresters by the bears.
The most horrific mauling took place at Upper Sichey here on November 3 where three senior forest officials were seriously injured by a 90 kg adult bear.
A dozen instances of bear sightings and confrontations have been reported from West district alone, it is informed.
The first incident was reported from Tofung reserved forest, Upper Rimbi in West Sikkim where 50 year old Kuber Singh Subba was attacked by a bear. He was admitted to Geyzing hospital for treatment under the care of the doctors and wildlife staff.
The next incident took place on October 21 where Tek Nath Sharma (42) came under a bear attack at Sangku Dentam under Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary. He suffered head and body injuries and is presently treatment at Geyzing.
Eight days later, it was the turn of 54 year old Lal Man Rai to come under the bear attack at Meli Khechoepalri. He also landed up at SNTM hospital.
Rai was soon joined by Nima Sherpa (52) at the STNM hospital following a bear attack at a private holding in Dokathang, Tikjhuk near Geyzing on November 3.
A bear was also sighted at near Geyzing, Yuksom and Dupidara, Tashiding in a private holding where livestock were attacked. Three bears were also sighted at Tharpu on November 6 and the animals were driven back into the forest areas by the forest personnel.
One report of bear sighting had come from Lower Namling busty, Ralang on October 24. The bear is reported to have killed a livestock.
The forest department has provided financial assistance and necessary support to the injured persons, said CCF (wildlife) HP Pradhan to Sikkim Express. He said that a control room has been set up to launch immediate measures whenever reports of bear sightings come.
“All wildlife and territorial officials along with front line staff are geared up to handle any situation”, said Pradhan. He also acknowledged the support provided by police, local people and Panchayats.
The bear trend drifted towards East Sikkim with a vengeance mauling three forest officials at Sateybazaar, Upper Sichey on November 3 before the animal was captured with tranquilizers and released in Kupup forest area the next day.
A lady also came under a bear attack at Raffong khola, Malling area on November 8. She is presently admitted at Mangan district hospital with injuries.
Another wild bear is presently romping around bushes of Himalayan Zoological Park, Bulbuley here since Monday morning. The forest and police authorities are taking great precaution and measures to ensure that the bear does not spill over into the human habitats at Chandmari.
As reported, the forest and police staff yesterday evening tried to push back the elusive wild animal towards to the deeper forest covers. The zoo has also been shut down till the bear threat is addressed.
ACF Ashoke Pradhan who has been since yesterday morning camped at the spot to handle the situation along with Gangtok Sadar police said that the bear is still elusive. “But we have found all the signs that the bear is in this area,” he said.
The wildlife authorities have decided not to use tranquilizers to capture the bear. “We have instead set up a trap in a cage at the spot frequently visited by the bear,” said Pradhan. “The trail leading to the cage has been littered with food items in order to lure the bear into the trap.”
“All our staff and police personnel have stood their positions since yesterday in order to prevent the transgression of the bear into human habitats,” said the ACF. He expressed his hopes that bear will be captured soon and then dispatched to higher altitude areas.
A bear is said to have also been sighted at Lower Tintek, Marchak yesterday morning but could not be located afterwards by a team of forest and police staff from Mangan. However, the people have been appealed to remain alert when they venture into forest areas to collect cattle fodder.
Meanwhile, the forest department has reiterated its appeal to the people not to retaliate or take any independent action or approach the wild animal in the event the bear is sighted in and around human habitations. The people have been appealed not to fuel or heed any rumours which may create panic in the area.
The department has already released the appeals in the local dailies requesting the people not to dispose garbage especially rice beer wastage in and around human habitations. The department has attributed collection of edible wild items from the forest areas for the increase in man-animal conflicts.

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